A central Iowa cancer center has a new way to fight some types of brain cancer. Brian Pence works with the John Stoddard Cancer Center in Des Moines, and says the new treatment is called stereotactic radiosurgery. He says it’s a technique that utilizes a linear accelerator that treats patients with external beam of radiation. He says they can focus the beam of radiation down to pencil width or smaller. Pence says the method gives them lots of flexibility. He says they can put people in various positions to focus the radiation beam on different parts of the head to increase the radiation on the tumor while decreasing the side effects. Doctor Joseph Rhoades uses the treatment and says it offers an alternative for some patients with tumors linked to other cancers. He says they are generally people with three or less metastisis or spots in the brain that are over one centimeter. He says they must relatively unaffected by the cancer. Rhoades says the focused treatment makes a big difference in a patient’s recovery. He says they typically give what they call whole brain radiation to patients with colon, breast or lung cancer. He says the data shows that if they can boost the radiation to areas of that’re greater than a centimeter after the whole brain radiation, then their survival is almost doubled. Rhoades says they’ve found a person can stand only about 13 to 15 radiation treatments on their brain without major side effects. He says if you try to treat the areas with traditional eaxternal beam radiation, the patients have more fatigue, they also have more symptoms, memory and word finding problems and their survival is limited. Rhoades says a C-T scan and an M-R-I are fused together to give doctors a map of the tumors that need to be treated. He says the fusing means they lay the images right on top of each other, and it allows them to make a very precise arc with the machine to treat the area. He says treatments typically last between 30-90 minutes and the patient feels nothing as the beam treats the cancerous area. The John Stoddard Cancer Center is part of Iowa Methodist Medical Center, and is the only hospital in central Iowa to offer this new technology.
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